It’s Time to Abolish Public Education

This was originally posted on Live Oaks on September 21, 2010. Comments have not been migrated.

Last week, Senate Education Chair Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, announced that the public school system in Texas is broke. The Chronicle’s story said:

According to committee members and experts, the system has vast inequities of more than $1,000 per student and is built on adjustments for low-income students, rural school districts, small districts, medium districts and other factors that are nearly 30 years old with little reflection of real costs.

Shapiro, along with other Republicans, wants to scrap the current system and start over. Unfortunately, they don’t really mean it. For example:

Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said he favors a sales tax increase to fund public education instead of property tax revenue.

“The homeowners and the commercial business owners can’t stand much more,” Patrick said, noting that all consumers would directly contribute to public education if the funding source shifts from property to sales.

This isn’t scrapping the current system–this is tinkering with details. The current system is essentially a government monopoly funded through coercive taxation. What Patrick proposes is more of the same, with the names of the victims changed.

For all of their talk of free markets, conservatives such as Patrick are quick to reject free markets when it comes to education. They cling to the belief that money is the answer, even when more money continues to produce the same abysmal results. They refuse to question the legitimacy of public education and struggle to find ways to make it work.

If conservatives were serious about improving the state’s educational system, they would be calling for the abolition of public schools. While they often taut the superior results of home schooling and private schools they are loathe to remove the financial burdens that prevent the poor and middle class from having such options. Forced to pay for public education, the poor and middle class can seldom afford other educational options for their children.

I agree with Shapiro that the system is broken. I disagree with her that it can be repaired–it can’t. Now is the time to abandon public education.

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